Every once in a while I completely forget about some of the big differences that separate us Canadians from people south of the 49th parallel. Then I come across an interview like the one between Sportsnet's Kristina Rutherford and J.A Happ that makes me both hysterical and flabbergasted in the exact same moment.
For starters, you have to commend Rutherford for her interviewing abilities in her regular interviews published in Sportsnet the Magazine. After meeting her, it truly is a respectable quality or skill that she has in getting athletes to talk about some unique moments that usually have next to nothing to do with the sport they play.
In her recent interview, she starts with talking to Happ about some very conventional baseball topics such as his fastball, other favourite sports and his upbringing. Nothing out of the ordinary here. Then she tip-toes her way through his pregame rituals, revealing that he's a smoothie guy on game days, before talking about his instrumental regret of quitting playing the guitar when growing up.
All these little tidbits don't exactly help us determine what makes Happ as good as he is from 60 feet six inches away, but they do help us understand the more human side of his life. That type of information is gladly welcomed in a world where we're accustomed to hearing athletes talking about taking it, ‘one game at a time' and ‘giving it 110 per cent'.
If that wasn't enough, she unveiled the bombshell. In a question about his level of comfortability in Canada, Happ tries to sneak in a little nuance that he doesn't yet understand.
"I still don't understand the bagged milk situation here," he tells Rutherford.
"You guys sell milk in bags and I don't really get why, or what you do then with the bags. Other than it seems like Canada's doing a pretty good job (laughs). But I don't get the milk. Put it in a gallon jug so you don't have a sloppy, messy bag."
This quote is dumbfounding as a man who grew up in Ontario. Bagged milk was all I knew and although I understand that bagged milk isn't a thing in the western provinces (basically anywhere west of Ontario) and south of the border, I still figured it was an easy enough concept to master at your local grocery store.
Seriously, not to be condescending, but Rutherford's line of questioning demonstrates how equally surprised she is that he doesn't get it. You go to the store, purchase the milk bags—three within one actual bag—take it home and put one bag at a time in a plastic container (you can also purchase this at the grocery store) and cut a hole in the top corner to pour it for future use. I get his point that this is harder than using a jug or a carton of milk, but only in the same trivial way that putting on your shirt before your pants is easier when getting dressed in the morning.
The mental picture of Happ walking into the grocery store for the first time in Canada is one that's only topped by the hypothetical image of him making a complete mess with the milk after he cuts a whole in the top and has absolutely no clue what to do with the rest of the bag after using it.
"We need a memo sent out to all American players on how Canada dispenses its milk," he tells Rutherford towards the end of the interview.
Maybe he's right. Maybe incoming free agents are scared to sign in Toronto because they are terrified of the potential mess they could create without proper knowledge or training of bagged milk. So here it is:
1) Purchase the milk at your local grocery store, be it homogenized, 1%, 2%, Skim. Anything you want.
2) Find the plastic container that's usually in the same aisle as the milk for purchase. If you can't find it, don't be afraid to ask a worker there, it really isn't a stupid question if you can't find it since they don't know you don't know how to use it.
3) Go home and when looking to use the milk, take one bag out from the fridge and slide it down into the plastic container. Find a pair of scissors and cut a small triangle in the top corner of the bag on the opposite side to the handle. For advanced milk drinkers only, cut a small hole in the other side of the bag so that the milk will pour easier.
I do have to say that I respect Happ for bringing this forward. As an Ontarian by birth, I was ignorant to the idea that someone wouldn't understand this process, or that Ketchup chips are as good as the main ingredient they are made with. Hopefully incoming Americans playing in Toronto are able to read this tutorial and avoid similar problems in the future.
As Happ concludes to Rutherford, "That would be great."